Chemotherapy - Week 4: The Adjustment Phase

Chemotherapy is a rollercoaster and for anyone who's even been affected by cancer or chemotherapy, they will recognise what I mean straight away.  Chemotherapy, week 4 saw my mother return to the local Oncology hospital 4 days after being discharged for her second round of chemotherapy.  Here we go again, we thought!  After being neutropenic sepsis following the first round of chemotherapy we were incredibly cautious.  Of everything.  Of germs, of infections, of low temperatures and of high temperatures.  Luckily our GP, who is fantastic, is extremely accommodating of our situation and knowing that my mum would need a blood test 2 days before her next chemotherapy, and our concern with taking her to the hospital, arranged for a community nurse to come to our house and obtain blood samples.  A trip to the local GP may seem like a simple act but as my mum's mobility is reduced from being bedridden in the hospital, getting dressed, leaving the house, getting in the car and travelling 2 miles, to then get out the car and sit in a waiting room with the possibility of infection from other sick patients is no mean feat.  Eliminating any unnecessary stress and upheaval is key to her recuperation at the moment.

The second round of chemotherapy has been incredibly different to the first round.  This time, I was prepared.  I had my recently purchased vomit bowls, my new Braun ear thermometer and blood pressure mintor.  I was laughing.  But cancer surprised me again.  There was no vomiting, no loss of appetite - where did all the symptoms go, I thought!  But joking aside, she didn't escape from side effects entirely.  This time, she was incredibly tired, to the point that she did not want to speak and there was silence in the house but for the occasional nod in my direction for 3 days.  She was so weak, she had to haul herself up the two top stairs in order to complete the walk up the flight of stairs and there were other things too which we won't get into.  But in comparison, she was not admitted into A&E by way of an ambulance and for that, I am incredibly grateful.  Onwards and upwards!

As we were preparing for cycle #2, the nurse told us that my mum's white blood cell count was low. When the white blood cell count is 80, a blood transfusion is recommended.  My mum's white blood cell count was 77 before she went into cycle #2, hence the trepidation as we went home and the extreme tiredness she felt in the days following her second cycle of treatment and having the blood transfusion.  She is still a little delayed, in her thoughts from the chemo but as I said to someone the other day, she never hesitates to give me her opinion and tell me if she's not happy with something!

And now for the emotions.  Cycle #2 has seen my mum and I become even more closer than we had been before.  We cherish the time we have together and appreciate the little things.  I am a rubbish cook and have never found the time to learn but because she has not had the energy, I am now forced to do all the cooking.  So she sits on a  chair in the kitchen and offers me instructions on timings and quantities and we discuss what we'll cook the next day.  It allows her to feel part of the cooking still and gives me confidence in learning to cook.  It's also quality time that we spend together when I'm not having to rush around because I feel like it's time that I should be spending with her.

So we are going strong and settling into a routine which gives us some comfort when facing a disease that you cannot control but settle into.  As someone said to me the other day, we are finding a new sense of 'normal', a life that is dedicated to appreciating the simple things and living, one day at a time.



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